Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Art is dirty

Hands With Graphite 

My hands after a recent studio session where I was using powdered graphite in some new works on paper. They looked like this after using gloves, I should say. I don't care about my hands getting dirty because making art is a messy business, if anything, I welcome the mess. The thing about using powdered anything to make work is that the dust can get everywhere. The majority of my work has been with liquid-based mediums for years, with the exception of using charcoal and pencils, of course. The last time I used pastels was over 20 years ago. 

I used a mask with the graphite powder. However, I was still surprised by the amount of blackened sweat that I wiped away from my face and head while I was working. I found out later, while cleaning up for the day, that every exposed part of my body was covered in a film of graphite dust. Some research I've done has shown that long-term inhalation of carbon dust can be harmful to the lungs of course. However, I'm keeping my exposure limited with masks, using small amounts of the graphite powder and not snorting it up with old, rolled up drawings. I'm sometimes more scared of what I'm breathing in on a daily basis when I'm out in the streets. 


Pete Hoge said...

Its interesting how artists,
or people who work with
materials to create objects,
have so many differing ideas
about the value of materials.

Just reading your post today
gave me the willies, because
as you might remember, I have
OCD when it comes to having
dirt or paint on my hands.

Thankfully I have clean media,
which is electro-digital, and
I don't have to wash my hands
constantly or fret about paint
or anything else on my clothes
or body.

However, too many pixels can
get inside my head, and I will
feel like an overloaded scanner.

I bet the outcome of using
powder is wonderful.

Kate Davis Caldwell said...

Hi Tim,

I can relate to your tribulations working with powdered graphite- powdered charcoal is no better! I look like a coal miner after working. The fine dust freaks me out too...invest in a great mask, and I have found that using a neti pot every day helps too. At least it provides some peace of mind:) Looking forward to seeing the finished work in the future!

Matthew G. Beall said...

A nice picture. Extremely expressive.

Eddie Hudson said...

Wow, I had to comment on this. Back in the day - I graduated from Columbia College (Chicago) in '84 - I HATED the idea of getting my hands dirty. I never wanted to work with pastels for that reason. But low and behold, these days, I almost revel in 'dirty hands.' And when I'm working with oil paints or some intense inks and I can't get them off for a day or so, it feels like I'm wearing a badge of courage.:)